Why do I have to recover if it’s his addiction? This is a question I hear frequently from the partners of sex addicts I counsel. Once the shock of discovering a husband’s sex or porn addiction begins to wane, the partner typically starts the process of scouting her enemy. The partners I work with are often the most well read, well educated, and intelligent women about the facts of sex and porn addiction. Their brains can generally absorb the facts, although their hearts have more trouble understanding how those facts can be true for the man they thought they knew.
Regardless, they do their research and collect volumes of information. In doing so, they repeatedly run across the advice to seek and commit to consistent individual and group counseling for themselves – not just in the early days after discovery, or as they approach a professionally guided therapeutic disclosure, or when their husband begins to flounder in his recovery, but throughout the entire healing journey. For many partners who feel used and abused by the impact of their spouse’s sex addiction, hearing that they too need to seek help seems too much to take.
This is usually when I hear some version of, “It’s unfair. He is the one with the problem. It was his addiction that upended my whole world, stripped me of everything I thought I believed to be true about our relationship. Why do I have to work at recovery if it was his addiction that shattered my heart?
It is understandable that partners of sex addicts feel blamed at hearing that they too have recovery work to do or resentful that they have to sift through their pain when all they want to do is bury it. It’s even understandable for partners to feel as if, ‘he broke it so he should fix it.”
My answer to their question is a common sense one that goes something like this: the reason you need to seek help is because it’s your heart that is broken. The hurt is inside of you. No one else can fix something that is inside of you. That is an inside job so you are the only one who can heal your own heart!
Partners do not necessarily like my answer but they do eventually accept the truth of it. Ultimately they decide that they are worth whatever work it might take to restore their own spirit. So they settle in, surrender to the process and begin their healing journey.
If you are a partner of a sex or porn addict and struggling with the unfairness of your own need for recovery, for counseling, for connection with a community of support – just ask yourself if you are worth whatever work it takes.
Dr Janice Caudill is the founder and Clinical Director of McKinney Counseling & Recovery. MCR offers individual, couples, group therapy and 3-day intensives for partners of sex addicts and wounded hearts struggling with sex addiction, infidelity, love addiction or love avoidance, intimacy anorexia, or relational trauma in the McKinney, Plano, Allen, Richardson, Frisco, Prosper, Carrollton, Lewisville, Dallas and surrounding areas.
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